A recent editorial by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times put a spotlight on what we here at the Partnership know to be true: a child’s early years are a crucial window to create the best possible outcomes in education, health, and economic prosperity.
“The biggest obstacles and greatest inequality often have roots early in life: If we want to get more kids in universities, we should invest in preschools.”
In our highly politicized climate, it’s important to remember that support for early childhood is bipartisan, both in North Carolina and nationally. So why has tangible support for programs and funding continued to stall?
As Kristof says, “America’s education wars resemble World War I, with each side entrenched and exhausted but no one making much progress. Let’s transcend the stalemate and focus on investing in America’s neediest kids. We rescued banks because they were too big to fail. Now let’s help children who are too small to fail.”
High-quality programs and increased access to such programs requires a significant financial investment on a local, state and national level. But this investment in early childhood has an unparalleled future return, both for individuals and communities.
Early childhood programs lay the foundation for school readiness by providing children with dependable, nurturing relationships and safe, stimulating environments that support healthy development. Early childhood education strengthens our economy and workforce by promoting productivity growth and job creation in the near term and cultivating a better future workforce. Early childhood education is our best opportunity to increase personal achievement and social productivity in the form of higher graduation rates, reduced crime, higher earnings and better jobs.
Here at the Partnership, we fund and work alongside high-quality, evidence-based programs, investing public dollars where there is a proven impact. We know that programs such as Smart Start, Early Head Start, and NC Pre-K are making a lasting impact for young children and families. However, only 29% of the 23,000 children birth to age 5 in Durham County are enrolled in licensed, regulated child care programs, and there are more than 3,000 children currently on waiting lists for child care scholarships. This is still a critical need in our community.
This election year, let’s make sure that this critical need gets the attention it deserves as a critical issue for candidates. How can you help? Learn more about where each candidate stands on education issues and what they have done to support young children and families. Learn more about the policies and funding priorities of the members of our current NC General Assembly. Make your voice heard, and become an advocate for young children and families in Durham, North Carolina, and across the country!